several locals driving on scooters around a roundabout close to sunset in Ho Chi Minh City / Ho Chi Minh City Itinerary 4 days

Ultimate 4 Day Itinerary for Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, is one of those cities where when you visit once, you’ll most likely find yourself wanting to visit again.

After spending one month there, I’ve gotten to know the city well, so I’ve compiled this complete, mapped-out itinerary for how to spend 4 days in Ho Chi Minh City.

The 4-day itinerary includes iconic landmarks, vibrant markets, the best time to visit, restaurant recommendations, and other must-know tips for first-time visitors!

Getting Around Ho Chi Minh City

  • Grab Taxi / Popular ride-sharing app in Southeast Asia.
  • City Taxi / Taxis in the city are white, you’ll spot plenty of them around.
  • Guided Tours / A great and easy way to get around is by joining organized tours.
  • Public Bus / The public bus has many routes around the city & costs only 5k Dong.
  • Motorcycle Taxi / Either use Grab or City moto-taxis.
  • Cyclo / This is a three-wheeled bike; you sit in the front, as the driver cycles.
the vibrant Ben Thanh Market from the outside amongst many skyscraper buildings during a vibrant sunset in Ho Chi Minh City

4 Day Ho Chi Minh City Itinerary Overview

  • Day 1: Bach Dang Park, War Museum, Ben Thanh Market & People Committee Area
  • Day 2: Mekong Delta River Day Trip & Ben Nghe Street Food Market
  • Day 3: Tan Dinh Church/Market, Jade Emperor Pagoda, HCMC Central Park & Blank Lounge Landmark
  • Day 4: Independence Palace, Notre Dame Church/Book Street, Ho Cun Rua Park & Ho Thi Ky Night Market

Day 1 in Ho Chi Minh City:

Prepare for a full day of adventures on your first day in Ho Chi Minh City. The day will start by visiting the city’s new modern waterfront promenade.

Then, you will visit some of Saigon’s most iconic landmarks and experience its history and culture.

But first, start your day off with some delicious Vietnamese breakfast. Everyone often recommends Banh Mi or Pho, Vietnam’s two most famous foods. So here’s a different suggestion: try Bo Ne, which is beef with eggs on a hot pan, Vietnamese style!

Bach Dang Wharf Park

beautiful park area amongst many buildings at sunset at Bach dang Park in Saigon

Bach Dang Wharf Park is a newly constructed waterfront promenade along the Saigon River on the city’s eastern side, a perfect place to spend your first morning in Ho Chi Minh City.

The beautiful park is a great place to take a walk along the river as you spot boats going by, local fishermen fishing, and other parts of the city from across the river.

It’s a great idea to buy food for takeout and have a picnic here, or you can visit the riverside cafe and restaurant.

During significant holidays and festivals, the park hosts a variety of celebrations for locals and tourists to enjoy.

War Remnants Museum

Vietnam has a lot of history, and learning about some of its eventful pasts is a must during your first visit to Ho Chi Minh City.

The War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City is a powerful testament to the many atrocities that happened in the Vietnam War. The museum also serves as a sign of united resilience in Vietnam.

Walking through the museum, you’ll find a collection of war artifacts, photographs, stories, and tragic consequences of the 19-year war. Entry tickets can be purchased at the door for 40K Dong.

Ben Thanh Market

bright lit up signage at the historic famous Ben Thanh market at night in Ho CHi Minh City

Regarded as one of the city’s most iconic landmarks, Ben Thanh Market is a bustling and vibrant market filled with goods, textiles, street food, and a rich history. It was first built in 1914.

Ben Thanh Market is the best place for souvenir shopping. As you navigate the many stalls, you’ll find magnets, artwork, stickers, keychains, and just about anything else you can think of.

The market is open from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM every day. Some stalls begin to close shop at 5:00 PM because of all the products they have to move. Many of the outdoor stalls attached to the market stay open later.

People Committee of Ho Chi Minh City

One of the city’s most picturesque buildings and areas is the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee, where management affairs occur.

There, you will find the admiring architectural building, which takes up a whole block in the city. Across the street from it is a statue of Ho Chi Minh himself, as well as a lush garden space for locals/tourists to visit.

The People’s Committee oversees various aspects of urban planning, infrastructure, public services, economic development, and social welfare. It plays a crucial role in shaping the city’s growth and ensuring the well-being of its inhabitants.

I recommend you visit the building and square during the evening, and the area is even more beautiful at sunset!

the remarkable architectural People Committee building on a beautiful sunset evening in Saigon

Day 2 in Ho Chi Minh City:

It’s time to leave the city for an exciting day trip and explore the famous Mekong Delta River, about two hours outside Ho Chi Minh City.

Remember to bring a bag or backpack with a power bank, extra tissues, water, and cash for your day trip.

Once you’ve returned after a long day trip to the Mekong Delta, you’ll spend the evening at the fun Ben Nghe Night Market, where you can enjoy a wide variety of local and international foods for dinner!

Mekong Delta River Day Trip

two local ladies rowing through the Mekong Delta River on a sunny day in Vietnam

Ranked the #1 Day trip to experience from Ho Chi Minh City is the Mekong Delta River trip, a fun, unique, and culture-rich experience.

A Mekong Delta River day trip from Ho Chi Minh City is a fantastic opportunity to experience the cultural charm of the Mekong Delta region.

During the full-day excursion, you will board a comfortable travel bus for two hours to the region.

The first stop is visiting the Vinh Trang Pagoda, where many famous Buddhist statues, such as the laughing Buddha and the main Vinh Trang Pagoda, are located.

After the temple stop, you will go to the docks for the Mekong Delta River. There you will take a boat to one of the islands along the river. Your guide will then take you around the traditional riverside villages.

the famous large laughing buddha statue standing tall on a sunny day at the Vinh Trang Pagoda temple in Vietnam

In the villages on these islands, you will experience the local culture and try many foods produced on the island, from fruits to coconut snacks, local tea, and more.

Later in the day, you will explore the village’s floating market and then take a charming boat ride through the narrow canals.

Near the end of the tour, you can purchase many handmade coconut snacks, snake alcohol (yes, you read that right), and leather goods, such as wallets, belts, purses, and more.

The tour is an all-day tour, lasting 8 hours, and it includes a traditional Vietnamese lunch.

Ben Nghe Street Food Market

Located in the heart of the city is Ben Nghe Street Food Market, an open-air market offering delicious street food options, including many international cuisines.

Here, you’ll find local foods like spring rolls, banh mi sandwiches, fresh seafood, and many international cuisines, such as Mexican, Indian, Italian, and a few Western options. No matter your food preferences, there’s food for everyone at the market!

After a long day trip, dinner at this fun food market is the perfect thing to do. During the evening, a live band performs for guests to enjoy as they dine.

several tourists dining and some walking around the popular Ben Nghe Night Market in Ho Chi Minh City

Day 3 in Ho Chi Minh City:

On your third day in Vietnam’s most vibrant city, you will visit the Da Kao area. Here, you will visit the famous Tan Dinh Church, Tan Dinh Market, and the Jade Emperor Pagoda temple.

Later in the day, visit HCMC Central Park, the city’s most beautiful and picturesque park, followed by a visit to Landmark 81, the tallest building in Saigon.

End your day at one of my favorite restaurants in the city:

Or, if you’re looking for a party atmosphere, visit Bui Vien Walking Street, dine there, and experience the city’s nightlife.

Tan Dinh Church & Market

the famous Ten Dinh Church a vibrant pink church built long ago by the french in Saigon

In the center of the Da Kao area in Saigon is Tao Dinh Church, a vibrant pink exterior church with beautiful details. It was built in the 1870s when the French occupied Vietnam.

This Roman Catholic church is a place of worship and a popular attraction for its unique beauty.

A few steps away from the church, you’ll find Tan Dinh Market, a bustling local market known for its colorful flowers, fresh and dried produce, candy, spices, and much more. The market isn’t large by any means, but it’s worth visiting!

Jade Emperor Pagoda

The charming Jade Emperor Pagoda is a Taoist temple and a religious site. As you step inside, visitors are greeted with distinctive, colorful architecture throughout the area.

Built in 1892, the site is dedicated to the king of the gods in Chinese mythology. It took 16 years to complete.

Expect to see many locals visiting as they pay worship. Please be respectful when visiting.

Công viên Vinhomes Central Park

a pond full of koi fish at the Central Park amongst several skyscrapers in Ho Chi Minh City on a clear sky sunny day

Once you’ve explored the main attractions in the Da Kao area for the afternoon, it’s time to visit Ho Chi Minh City’s version of Central Park.

The park is massive, just over 14 hectares, and features many charming attributes, such as statues, a scenic pond with plenty of koi fish, and open areas to sit and relax.

Additionally, the park also offers many other amenities, such as small cabanas for BBQing, tennis courts, basketball courts, a park, a swimming pool, beautifully decorated gardens, and a scenic path along the river.

Open space is abundant under trees at the park. If there’s a place to picnic in the city, it’s here!

Undoubtedly, this was one of the most charming, beautiful, and well-thought-out parks I’ve visited. Visiting in the afternoon, I was slightly surprised it wasn’t as busy as I thought it should be.

Blank Lounge Landmark

Just steps from the Vinhomes Central Park is Landmark 81, the tallest building in Vietnam and the 17th in the world.

At the top of the building, you’ll find Blank Lounge, a chic rooftop bar serving cocktails and fancy desserts with exceptional panoramic city views.

You can either come for some pre drinks and then leave for dinner, or perhaps come after dinner for dessert and drinks!

Later in the evening, the lounge gets busier. Many try to come for sunset. If you’d like to do so, make sure to show up slightly earlier to get a good seat!

Bui Vien Walking Street (optional)

Many places you visit in Asia will have a Walking Street, and the term usually suggests a lively street with plenty of restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. And that’s exactly what Bui Vien Walking Street is all about!

Bui Vien Walking Street is lively, with locals and tourists visiting to enjoy a range of nightlife entertainment options.

As you stroll along Bui Vien, you’ll be greeted by many bar, restaurant, and nightclub workers enticing you to visit their venues. This is your place for those looking for an energetic, fun party night out.

For those who’ve been to Patong in Phuket or Pattaya, you will love this street.

I made visiting this street optional only because the street is loud and mostly for those looking to party. If that’s not on the agenda for the evening, you may want to skip it!

several locals and tourists walking, dining and partying on the famous Bui Vien Walking Street in Ho Chi Minh CIty at night

Day 4 in Ho Chi Minh City:

It’s your last day in the city, so you’ll take things a bit slower for the fourth day. Tomorrow, you’re traveling, and it’s best to be well-rested.

Today’s agenda includes a few attractions that are very close to one another.

Lastly, you can visit the Ho Thi Ky Food Market, which is slightly further than the attractions in this list. It’s worth checking out, but you can skip it if you’re quite tired!

Independence Palace

Formerly known as the Reunification Palace, the palace offers a glimpse of events that transpired during the time when Vietnam was fighting for its independence from the American occupation during the war.

Throughout the palace, you’ll find many artifacts, original furniture, meeting rooms, and more. There’s also a souvenir shop on the ground level. Outside is a lovely park area too, where you can enjoy coffee at one of the cafes.

You can join one of the many free guided tours there or purchase a ticket that offers audio descriptions of everything you see.

By the way, unlike the War Museum and the Independence Palace, I personally found the War Museum less interesting only because there wasn’t much to read about there. Don’t get me wrong; the Independence Palace is beautiful in itself, but the War Museum offered more.

That said, it is one of the most significant attractions in the city regarding things to do.

Notre Dame Cathedral & HCMC Book Street

charming street full of book stores, cafes with many trees in Saigon, known as Ho Chi Minh Book Street

As you leave the Independence Palace and walk down the street, you’ll find the charming Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon. Built in the 1880s by the French, this architectural gem has two twin bell towers with a charming red brick exterior.

With a lovely traffic roundabout and a park nearby, it’s hard to miss the church when strolling around Saigon. The church is free to visit, and as you step inside, you’re met with a high ceiling, plenty of glass windows, and religious decorations.

Located next to the church is Ho Chi Minh Book Street. This charming, lovely street is full of bookshops and cafes and is perfectly shaded by many trees. Only pedestrians can walk on the street, making it a quiet place to relax in the busy city.

Ho Con Rua Park

One of the neatest parks in the city is Ho Con Rua, a well-shaded urban oasis in the middle of a traffic roundabout. There is plenty of seating around the park and a unique stairway that leads up, offering views of the area from above.

Around the park, you’ll find many locals relaxing at one of the many cafes with park views or eating some quick street food as they take a break.

In the evening, the park is lit up adding to the already charming atmosphere of the park.

Ho Thi Ky Food Street

fresh seafood being sold by a vendor at the Ho Thi Ky Food street

Lastly, the perfect way to end your day is at a night market. The Ho Thi Ky food street market is a vibrant market with plenty of street food vendors selling many foods in the area’s narrow streets.

There’s a wide variety of foods here, from fresh grilled seafood to BBQ meats, pho, banh mi stalls, and Vietnamese coffee stands.

The market is also connected to the Ho Thi Ky Flower Market, where several vendor shops sell various fresh, beautiful flowers. It was interesting to see trucks stocked with flowers for city distribution.

While I recommend both Ben Nghe Food Market and Ho Thi Ky Food Market, there’s a significant difference between them: Ben Nghe is far more touristy, while Ho Thi Ky Food Market is far less touristy!

Where to Stay in Ho Chi Minh City

Below, I’ve shared the best areas to stay in Ho Chi Minh City for your first visit based on your traveler type. See which area would best suit you. Also included are the best hotels in each area by budget.

Ben Thanh is the most central area in Ho Chi Minh City. Staying here means you’ll have quick access to other areas and be in the center of the city’s hustle and bustle. It’s the best area in Ho Chi Minh City for first time visitors looking to experience much of the city!

  • Orchids Saigon Hotel / A top-ranked 4 Star hotel located on a quiet street, near many attractions, shopping, restaurants, and parks.
  • Nicecy Boutique Hotel / Cozy mid-priced 3-star hotel centrally located in the Ben Thanh area. Just steps away from plenty of restaurants, markets, and shops.

Pham Ngu Lao is regarded as backpacker central. Around it, you’ll find plenty of hostels, affordable places to eat, and Bui Vien Walking Street, the city’s nightlife district.

If you’re curious about where to stay in Ho Chi Minh City for backpackers or nightlife, this area is the place to be.

alleyway street at night in the Pham Ngu Lao area of Saigon
Pham Ngu Lao

Da Kao is a vibrant area with many parks, river views, a zoo, and markets. Despite being centrally located, it has more of a neighborhood touch than Ben Thanh. Da Kao is perfect for families visiting Ho Chi Minh City who’d prefer to be centrally located!

Sofitel Saigon Plaza / Luxrious 5 Star hotel offering many amenities, on a quieter street but still centerally located, near many attractions, shopping and restaurants.

Wink Hotel Saigon / Ultra modern hotel in the center of the Da Kao area offering many amenities for visitors.

Thao Dien is regarded as the expat area in the city. It’s a laidback area with diverse food options and bars, and the whole area offers charming river views. Thao Dien is the best area to stay in Ho Chi Minh City for families.

Aurora Western Village / Top-ranked hotel/serviced apartments in the center of Thao Dien area. Those looking for a more cozy homey stay.

Sen Boutique House / A lovely mid-ranged boutqiue hotel offering spacious/modern rooms by the river.

man driving by on a scooter in a empty road amongst many buildings on a beautiful clear day in Thao DIen area in Ho Chi Minh City

Best Restaurants in Ho Chi Min City

Are you curious where you should eat in Ho Chi Minh City? Here’s a list of some of the best restaurants to add to your 4 day itinerary, including some cheap Michelin Star restaurants!

Pho Viet Nam – Serving the famous Pho noodle soup, Michelin Star ranked Pho

Ngon Restaurant – Vietnamese restaurant known for its diverse menu, top restaurant in HCMC

Bếp Mẹ Ỉn – Tucked in an alleyway, this Michelin Star Vietnamese restaurant is known for its beef skewers, coconut rice, seafood pancake and much more

Bánh Mì Bảy Hổ – Regarded as one of the best Banh Mi sandwich shops in the city

Bò Kho Gánh Sài Gòn – Legendary restaurant open for many years, specializing in Bo Kho, a popular beef stew (much different than pho)

Sol Kitchen & Bar – Modern Latin restaurant serving an array of delicious fusion food; expect entries with beef cheeks, wagyu steak, pork ribs, seafood on ice and more

Terraviva Pizza & Italian Cuisine – Serving up a wide variety of Italian food from all regions, Terraviva has the best pizza in Saigon

Pho 24 – Known franchise restaurant known for its Pho and other Vietnamese foods, For those on a budget, this is one of the best cheap eats restaurants in Saigon.

a warm bowl of Pho, a popular Vietnamese soup being served at Pho Viet Nam restaurant in Saigon
Phi Viet Nam Restaurant

When to Visit Ho Chi Minh City

Like many places in Southeast Asia, Ho Chi Minh City has two distinct weather seasons: dry and wet.

If you visit during the dry season, you can expect hot weather, plenty of sunshine, and low humidity levels. During the wet season, expect sporadic rainfall in the city and humidity levels higher than in the dry season.

Dry Season: December to April

The best time to visit Ho Chi Minh City is during the dry season, from December to April, you can expect average temperatures around 27°C (81°F) to 33°C (91°F).

In the dry season, you can expect plenty of blue skies and sunny weather with low humidity levels. The city’s weather is quite consistent during the dry season. The driest month is February.

Wet Season: May to November

The worst time to visit Ho Chi Minh City is during the wet season, when you’re more than likely to experience a few days of rain. The rainfall in the wet season is usually in the afternoon and tends to pass by quickly, but not always!

Expect temperatures in the city around 30°C (86°F) to 33°C (91°F); it’s important to know that humidity levels are also fairly higher compared to the dry season.

several vibrant colourful flowers riverside with plenty of skyscrapers in the distance in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Tips for Visiting Ho Chi Minh City

  • Use Grab to get around; the ridesharing app is very convenient for getting around, and food delivery.
  • Always have cash on you. Many stores take credit cards, but some restaurants and street vendors don’t.
  • Buy your SIM card when you’re about to leave the airport. The first vendors you see before immigration charge double the price for any SIM card plan. By the way, the phone company Viettel has the best network coverage in the city.
  • If you visit Vietnam during Tet/Lunar New Year, stores close for 2-5 days, depending on the city you’re visiting. Business owners open back up by their own schedule.
  • Scams in Vietnam happen occasionally. Watch out for pickpockets in crowded streets. Some taxi drivers try to overcharge tourists when they’ve arrived. Avoid tour scams.
  • Most nationalities require a visa to enter Vietnam, so make sure you apply on the official website. Apply one month before, just in case immigration sends it back because of a mistake you made on the application and you need to reapply – Some nationalities don’t need a visa to enter Vietnam. – Still do your research
tourist crossing the street amongst many palm trees in Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City Itinerary for 4 Days — Final Thoughts

That concludes my 4 day itinerary for Ho Chi Minh City, to make the most of your trip, try to stick to the schedule.

While this itinerary covers the best things to do in Ho Chi Minh City, some people aren’t into activities like visiting museums, and you can always find other fun things to do while you’re in the city.

Other popular must-visit places in Vietnam are Hanoi, Da Nang, Hoi An, Sapa, and so on! Stay tuned for more guides on Vietnam!

Is 4 days enough in Ho Chi Minh City?

Four days in Ho Chi Minh City is enough time to experience many of the city’s main attractions and includes enough time for a day trip outside the city.

How many days should I spend in Ho Chi Minh City?

Plan to spend at least 3 to 4+ days in Ho Chi Minh City. The city offers many attractions, and there are a few areas with their own attractions worth visiting.

Is 2 days enough in Ho Chi Minh City?

Two days in Ho Chi Minh City can be enough if you’re looking to see the city quickly. But two days isn’t enough to see the main attractions and get a feel for the city.

Is it better to go to Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi?

This depends on your preference. Ho Chi Minh City is considered modern, busier, and more politically forward, while Hanoi is more culturally representative of Vietnam, with its various streets, architecture, and atmosphere.

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